It may seem strange by today’s standards that a 15-year-old girl was attending the University of Minnesota. You tend to think that children or teens are very advanced if they are attending University classes. Gusta may have been brilliant, but it was not unusual for high school age kids to go to U of M. Gusta would have finished the 8th or 9th grade and perhaps had no option for high school, and she lived only blocks from the university. Anyone could attend the university who passed the entrance exam and paid the $5 fee for supplies.
Gusta was enrolled in the Fourth Class, Scientific Course of the Collegiate Department. According to Folwell (1874:8), the Collegiate Department
…is introductory to the permanent colleges of the University. It differs from then traditional “Preparatory Department” in that it includes the work of the two lower years of the usual college course. This arrangement emphasizes and formulates the prevailing tendency of American colleges and universities to make the close of the Sophomore year a branching point for certain technical and professional courses and for the introduction of elective studies. The High Schools and other “fitting schools” of the State are thus invited to extend their work up to this branching point, and thereby to liberate the University to carry on her appropriate work.
Students who complete their coursework in the Collegiate Department and pass the appropriate exams would then be accepted to one of the colleges of the University to pursue a degree.
Classes were taken in the Old Main Building, which was built in 1858 and was the first building built on campus. It was destroyed by a fire in 1904. Shelvin Hall was built on the Old Main’s lot in 1908 and is still in use as the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences building.
Folwell, William W.
1874 Report of the President of the University of Minnesota to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, for the University Year Ending June 18, 1874. University of Minnesota. Minneapolis, Minnesota. Accessed 3/11/2018. Ancestry.com
University of Minnesota
1875 The Calendar of the University of Minnesota. University of Minnesota. Minneapolis, Minnesota. Accessed 3/11/2018. Ancestry.com
2018 University of Minnesota Libraries Campus History, East Bank. Accessed 3/11/2018 https://www.lib.umn.edu/campushistory/east-bank